Category Archives: Rising Stars

Hip New Jersey sits with the state’s up-and-comers before they hit the mainstream. We’ll find out what motivates them on their journey to the top!

Penelope Lagos

Penelope Lagos of “I Miss My Best Friend”

In honor of #WorldBookDay, #HipNJ‘s resident author Lisa Marie Latino chatted with fellow scribe Penelope Lagos about her debut book, I Miss My Best Friend.

I Miss My Best Friend is a heart-warming story for children that will help them learn how to deal with the loss of a pet. Penelope also offers ten helpful steps parents can use to help their children cope with grief.

The poignant story and detailed illustrations were inspired by the death of Cassius “The Legend” Lagos, who was Penelope’s beloved best friend for 16 years.

“Losing Cassius was like losing a child to me,” Penelope explained. “You never get over the death, but the book has helped me heal.

“It’s been therapeutic.”

Her love for four-legged creatures goes beyond Cassius. She is a huge animal advocate and strongly believes in being “a voice for the voiceless.” She holds a certification in Canine Fitness and Conditioning as well as Advanced Pet CPR/First Aid.

“Author” and “Animal Ambassador” are only two of the many hats Penelope wears. She is a New Jersey native and Rutgers University graduate who has acted in numerous indie films and commercials as well as volunteering at The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Penelope was the recipient of an achievement award honoring critical funds raised for LLS.

For more on Penelope and to purchase her book, visit PenelopeLagos.com.

Lisa Marie Latino’s wardrobe provided by Privée by Priya. Lisa Marie’s Makeup and hair provided by Blush Brides NJ. Order her debut novel “Ten Years Later” on Amazon

Brynn Stanley

Brynn Stanley Performs for Minette’s Angels

Attendees of the Minette’s Angels Celebration of Angels gala on Thursday, April 26th at the Park Savoy Estate will be treated to the soulful jazz vocals of Brynn Stanley at cocktail hour! 

This Fairleigh Dickinson University graduate has been charming audiences on both coasts with her “Classic” EP that contains her unique interpretations of some of the timeless American standards. Her smooth, silky voice has drawn comparisons to classic legends like Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee and modern stars like Norah Jones and Diana Krall.

Brynn got her start playing piano and singing with her sister, Jackie, in her parents’ living room. She would orchestrate family performances, and force her siblings to be in her short films and music videos. And thanks to her Dad’s shared love of The Beatles, Brynn memorized the words to every song and learned to sing harmony. Early stage fright reserved those performances for her family living room, but while attending college, Brynn took a leap of faith and began to sing publicly.

One night, while sitting around a piano with friends singing Broadway show tunes, Brynn’s friends encouraged her to try out for the upcoming musical. She eventually landed the lead role of ‘Sheila’ in the musical “Hair”. The following year Brynn changed her major to pursue her newfound passion.

After graduation, Brynn embarked on a singing career, immersing herself in countless performances with the most polished bands and venues in the Tri-State area. These performances included being the featured vocalist for official events held by the Governor of New Jersey and appearances at Mayo Performing Arts Center, The Metropolitan Room and Shanghai Jazz.

In 2013, Brynn headed West to California to broaden her career prospects and, through newly formed musical relationships, created her first ever original album, 2015’s “Hello, California”. The album is a unique blend of contemporary pop and hints of the jazz she loves, with influences ranging from Sara Bareilles to Michael Bublé.

Ultimately, Brynn knew she wanted to record standards from the Great American Songbook. Thanks to Executive Producer, Eric Lindquist of Sonopath Productions, this dream became a reality with the release of “Classic”, Brynn’s five-song EP. The recordings were done in Los Angeles with Grammy & Emmy Award-nominated engineer Jorge Vivo and producer & jazz recording artist Tony Guerrero at the helm.

Currently, she can be seen performing in and around New York and Los Angeles with her jazz trio at the famous Chateau Marmot in Hollywood, Vitello’s Jazz and Supper Club, Herb Albert’s Vibrato’s and Shanghai Jazz (voted “one of the top 100 great jazz clubs in the world”). While developing a reputation as a soulful jazz singer with an enthusiasm to please audiences of any age, Brynn continues to garner strong reviews from press, band mates, bandleaders and concert promoters.

For more information about Brynn Stanley, visit BrynnStanley.com.

To learn more about Minette’s Angels and to donate, visit MinettesAngels.org.

The City of Newark Strives to Rebrand Itself as a “City of the Arts”

The city of Newark has been making strides to rejuvenate its neighborhoods and rebrand itself as a “city of the arts”. Here at #HipNJ, we applaud those efforts and want to keep our followers informed of the latest developments in the city’s transformation. Since January, progress has been underway to convert a neglected building on South Ward’s Clinton Avenue into a community center. Brick City Live has partnered with Newark Arts to host community info sessions that utilize the expertise of artists, students, journalists, marketers and social influencers to formulated plans for a better city.

The latest session held on Thursday, February 22 at the Kilkenney Alehouse focused on brainstorming a new cultural plan for Newark’s art community. The meeting was structured around a series of questions posed to attendees. “How do [you] contribute or engage the artist community in Newark? And how can arts and culture be better leveraged as a resource in our community? What do media professionals want to see happen in the arts and creative sector that would help community revitalization in the next 3 years?”

Of the plethora of inspirational ideas drawn from the crowd, two major efforts are the focus of further exploration. The first is the development of a centralized communication system for arts and cultural-related events. The plan is to engage local students in the development of an app that will act as a virtual bulletin board. Once established, it can be maintained by either the Newark Arts or the Greater Newark Convention & Visitors Bureau. The second is the conversion of the seedy Little Theater into legitimate movie theater and performance space. This is made plausible by the fact that the property is up for lease.

The session ended with clear ideas and a projected Master Plan launch date of June 2018. The multi-faceted plan involves significant legwork on the part of the planners yet the rewards for the city will be substantial. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for new developments on the progress of the Newark’s art scene!

Original Reporting by Candace Nicholson